After taking an unplanned day off to recharge and a recover from a day on Oahu marred by bike problems and a 1 a.m. marathon finish, EPIC5 triathletes Richard Roll and Jason Lester charged into their third Ironman-distance triathlon on Saturday on Molokai.
By Mark Johnson
Before the event, Lester, who pre-rode all the bike courses, said “I can tell you right now that Kauai and Molokai are the most brutal sections that I’ve been to.” Citing the island’s mountainous profile and exposure to raking trade winds, Lester and Roll expected Molokai to be especially tough because it’s the third Ironman they faced, and might wreak havoc with their mental state.
While the largely undeveloped Molokai delivered both hills and wind, it did not crack the athletes, who started at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning with a 2.4-mile ocean swim. They transitioned to their bikes by 8:30 a.m. and by 10 a.m. were 20 miles into the ride and facing some of the windiest conditions yet in their five-Ironman adventure.
With northeast headwinds gusting up to 30 mph and temperatures at 80 degrees long before the sun was high in the sky, the first 45 miles of the bike leg tested Roll and Lester. However, after the turnaround at the northern edge of the 260-square mile island that harkens back to the idyllic, unstressed, and untrammeled Islands of the 1950s, the riders flew home with a strong tailwind assist.
At 5:20 p.m. the vegan athletes finished the 112-mile bike leg and took time to shower and rehydrate with coconut water before transitioning to the run at 6:00 p.m. Temperatures finally began to cool with the drawing Molokai dusk.
Running with a few locals including a track team and even a six-year old keiki, Lester and Roll finished the marathon shortly before midnight. Molokai didn’t crack them, and the triathletes finished in good spirits.
Molokai is “untouched and wild,” Roll had one of his support crew Twitter to fans. He added that a deer ran along side him for 200 yards as he passed through the rustic countryside in the night.
On Sunday Roll and Lester will catch an 8:30 a.m. flight to Maui to tackle their fourth Ironman-distance triathlon. You can follow the event and contribute to the EPIC5 beneficiary the Never Stop Foundation at www.epic5.com/live. Coverage will also continue at Competitor.com